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‘I’m Doing It’: Breast Cancer Survivor from West Hartford Tackles Full Marathon

Mirtica Aldave crosses the finish line at the Hartford Half Marathon in 2018. Courtesy of Mirtica Aldave

Mirtica Aldave of West Hartford turned to running to regain her energy after treatment for breast cancer, and on Oct. 12, 2019, plans to run the complete Eversource Hartford Marathon.

By Ronni Newton

At 8 a.m. Saturday morning, Mirtica Aldave will begin running, and she’ll keep on running for 26.2 miles, until she crosses under the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Bushnell Park.

“After a mile, or a mile-and-a-half, I feel like Forrest Gump, like I could keep on running to California,” Aldave said.

She hasn’t always had that much energy, or even an inclination to run.

It’s been nearly six years since Aldave, 61, was diagnosed with breast cancer. A whirlwind of doctor’s appointments, chemotherapy, and other treatment ensued.

She became a survivor, but even though her treatment was over she didn’t feel like herself.

A teacher in Hartford Public Schools for 34 years, Aldave was used to having plenty of energy, but after treatment most days she would get to a point where “I would hit a wall,” she said.

“I kept telling the doctor that 10 percent of me is missing,” Aldave said. She said the doctor’s response was that wasn’t so bad, that some people say they only get back to 50-60 percent of normal.

“I said 10 percent was too much,” Aldave recalled. “I refused to accept that.”

She began practicing yoga and meditating, and then took advantage of an opportunity to spend a year in India which gave her more opportunity to focus on her spiritual self.

Before returning home, Aldave said, she embarked on what turned into a trip of a lifetime to 15 different countries. She toured, she walked, and she hiked.

“At the end I realized I had gotten the 10 percent back,” Aldave said.

When she returned, Aldave declared that she was going to run a marathon – something she had never previously considered. A friend talked her into starting with a half marathon, and last October she completed the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon, covering the 13.1 miles in 2:46.54.

She ran because she felt whole again, to encourage other cancer survivors that they, too, can fight their hardest fight and live life to the fullest.

“I also did it in gratitude to the universe, to God or whatever higher power there is,” she said.

She also hoped to inspire her twin 30-year-old sons to inspire them to overcome weight challenges.

One son lost 65 pounds and has kept it off. “He said, ‘If my mother can run a half marathon I can lose weight,'” said Aldave. Her other son is now on a weight-loss plan as well.

Aldave did not lose sight of her original goal.

“I’m doing it … this year I’m doing the full,” she said.

Aldave said that despite a sore knee, she has been sticking with her training, and sticking with her plans to run the full 26.2 miles Saturday morning. She’s completed a few 20-milers in preparation.

She’s been training with a group of women from the Greater Hartford area on weekends, but on weekdays she runs by herself. Her nephew, Devon Aldave – a former all-conference cross country and track athlete at Hall High School, and a Boston Marathon qualifier – has helped with her training regimen.

Aldave said she is part of the Eversource team, not running for any one particular charitable organization because she can’t choose just one. She regularly donates to organizations that support breast cancer, prostate cancer, and children’s cancer research and treatment.

Aldave was born in Peru, but raised in the U.S., and last year she waved a sweatshirt that said “Peru” as she crossed the finish line.

She plans to run this Saturday in an outfit that represents both her battle with breast cancer as well as her heritage. “Maybe pink on the bottom with the top some kind of American and Peruvian flag,” she said.

For more information about the Hartford Marathon Foundation’s Eversource Marathon, Half Marathon, and other activities, click here.

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